Khimki, just outside of Moscow, was founded in 1939, around the base of a railway station that formed part of the linking network between capitals old and new; St Petersburg and Moscow. The city has significance for soccer fans as the imaginatively named Arena Khimki provides a home for both Dinamo Moscow and CSKA Moscow on occasion but there is also relevance found with the plight of the area's prestigious Khimki Forest.
The forest has recently been subject to an ongoing dispute between the authorities and a grass-roots network of resistance, following the announcement that an $8 billion high speed roadway would cut through through the centre of the forest that links (those two again) Moscow and St Petersburg. The roadway would lead to deforestation but, more importantly for the authorities, the felling of greenery would lead to a substantial decrease in journey time between the two cities. This desire to achieve results fast and a lack of patience at the expense of wider benefit gives us our, albeit tenuous, link with the Russian soccer scene.
The sacking of Krylia Sovetov head coach Alexander Tarkhanov on June 28 brought the managerial chopping board round to its seventh suitor - just sixteen rounds into the Russian Premier League season. That figure, however, discounts Valery Karpin, the eighth manager to have lost his job, who resigned from his position at Spartak but was then persuaded to stay on following a lack of suitable candidates. The desire of the Russian authorities to build a high speed link-up between Moscow and St Petersburg mirrors the lack of patience of Russian club's directors and owners. The difference being that, in terms of the clubs, its the managers rather than the trees that are being felled in favour of impatience and a wish for immediate results.
This worrying trend illustrates what could become a serious thorn in the side of Russian soccer as the continuous signing and shredding of managerial contracts hampers the development of clubs. This has been seen with the recent torrid form of Lokomotiv Moscow, following the dismissal of Yuri Krasnozhan. The negative effects of this managerial merry-go-round, commonly found in the English Premier League, have also appeared at Lokomotiv's neighbours Spartak Moscow where the club's directors failed to attract a wide list of possible candidates - including former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri. Ultimately, they ran back, tails between legs, to the already resigned Karpin.
Whilst the problems and the effects are clear the solutions are not so. The Russian leagues have now closed down for a month-long summer jaunt with the domestic campaign changing from the traditional summer schedule to the winter schedule used in western Europe. This prolonged break should act as welcome relief for managers who may well expect to keep their jobs over the next four weeks. Many of the big movers in the Premier League will be spending the summer acquiring players, with Zenit already bringing in the Italian Domenic Criscito. Crucially, though, the managers that have been trusted to spend such sums must be compensated by directors and owners with the relevant time to shape their squads.
Generally, stability has escaped the Russian Premier League's clubs in recent years with both Leonid Slutsky and Luciano Spalletti looking likely to walk the plank at one stage or another over the past two seasons. These two managers, after escaping dismissal, now see their sides sitting first and second respectively - a reminder that stability rather than short-termism and impatience offers a more suitable model of how to run a football club.
On that note, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev reacted to the grass-roots protestors and has called off, at least for now, the creation of the high speed roadway, meaning that the Khimki trees have escaped the felling that many feared. Russia's managers must also be hoping that the powers at be show a similar degree of patience and do away with the culture of splurging money on players and then sacking the manager when results turn slightly towards the shape of that proverbial fruit. It is also interesting to note the nationality of the owner of the English Premier League club most known for hiring and firing in recent years. It appears that short-termism really is in fashion with the Russians, wouldn't you say, Mr. Abramovich?